Fake! Bogus! Fraud! Traveshamockery!

Fake! Bogus! Fraud! Traveshamockery!

… and yet I find it interesting nonetheless. Certed by the PF as having counterfeit IR overprints, this reconstructed full OG irregular block still makes for an interesting aesthetic piece. The original submitter apparently also included a 1981 PF cert of a (supposed) genuine used example of a Mt. Clemmens (Clemens?) provisional IR overprint. The only examples I could find at the PF are the certed used example and a single unused example similar to the block, deemed counterfeit. The…

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Philatelic, But I Like Them Anyway!

Philatelic, But I Like Them Anyway!

A recent lot acquired for my revenue illegal usage collection. J.D. Van Volkenburgh of Hamilton, Missouri owned a “post office book store” that sold “Books, Stationery, Cigars and Tobacco, Newspapers, and Periodicals”. He was an early member of the American Philatelic Society. The lot consists of 7 checks, starting with a nice 2-cent battleship documentary with margin marking. The remaining 7 checks are all comprised of a wide variety of PROPRIETARY battleship revenue stamps, affixed illegally. Because most of the…

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Well, That’s One Way To Pay 50 Cents Tax…

Well, That’s One Way To Pay 50 Cents Tax…

I picked this up for my illegal/improper usage collection. You occasionally will run across 1st issue Playing Cards and Proprietary types (the two types that were still required to only be used for matching transactions following the legislation change of December 1862 that allowed cross-transaction type usage) used as documentaries, but it’s almost always just a single or perhaps a pair, not in large quantities on a single document. This 1871 indenture contains a block of ten R15c and ten…

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Need Help With Illegal Usage (?) On This Colorado Midland Railway Bond

Need Help With Illegal Usage (?) On This Colorado Midland Railway Bond

This is an odd one. Purchased as a gamble/curiosity just to see more. Could be fabricated, although I’m not sure to what end. The price I paid wasn’t substantially more than what the bond would otherwise bring. It’s an attractive $1,000 railroad bond with a 50-cent battleship documentary affixed, with a 2-line 1899 handstamp cancel. It also has an orange British 1-pound embossed revenue stamp at left, also (I believe) dated 1899. The odd aspect is the block of 6…

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An illegal postage-as-revenue usage that is apparently more scarce than one would think.

An illegal postage-as-revenue usage that is apparently more scarce than one would think.

When I encountered this document on Eric Jackson’s website over the Independence Day weekend, I initially glossed over it as “meh, just another 2-cent banknote illegal usage”… but then I paused, reflected, and started looking through my records and my collection for a similar example… and couldn’t find one. It’s tied, which is nice; something you don’t always find, but what’s so special about it? This is actually the first example I have ever seen of one of the grilled…

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Attractive Iron Cliffs Co. draft with illegal usage of postage as revenue

Attractive Iron Cliffs Co. draft with illegal usage of postage as revenue

The Iron Cliffs Company drafts are well known in revenue collecting circles, most notably for their aesthetics and the wide variety of 1st-3rd issue revenue stamps that can be found affixed. Mike Mahler wrote extensively about a find of these in the November-December 1995 issue of The American Revenuer: http://tar.revenuer.org/TAR1995N10.pdf I’ve seen numerous examples offered both online and at shows, and have a couple in my yet-to-be-processed piles. However, until last week I had never seen one that had an…

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An Unusual 1867 Illegal Usage Of A 30-cent Ben Franklin As Revenue

An Unusual 1867 Illegal Usage Of A 30-cent Ben Franklin As Revenue

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s a Scott #71, 30-cent Ben Franklin, used illegally as a revenue on a receipt for purchase of $100 of stamps from the Wheeling, West Virginia post office, signed by the postmaster. The problem is that there would have been no reason to pay 30 cents tax on this transaction. The ink color and hand of the stamp’s cancel match that of the document, so it does not appear that this is…

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Privately Rouletted R27a

Privately Rouletted R27a

I picked this up at COMPEX this weekend. It purports to be a privately rouletted R27a. It’s on piece, unfortunately not large enough or with any printing to provide context. It appears that the upper left corner was severed by the diagonal cut exhibited by the underlying piece, and then reattached. It’s not the first 1st Issue private roulette I’ve seen. I have an R5a that also is privately rouletted: There is another rouletted R5a with a clean Philatelic Foundation…

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Some International Bills of Lading

Some International Bills of Lading

Per Mike Mahler’s essential book “A Catalog of United States Revenue-Stamped Documents of the Civil War Era by Type and Tax Rate” (1999, The American Revenue Association): Quote: Any bill of lading to a foreign port is a significant item… Of the seven EMUs listed, it is unfortunate that two are defective (the Maitland and 7/24/1863 Wattson items). At that time, he had recorded only 37 examples, of which 7 were early matching usages (mid-1863 or earlier). So when an…

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Nice Illegal Use Cover… With A Bonus.

Nice Illegal Use Cover… With A Bonus.

Recently, I’ve been actively bidding on various and sundry covers with illegal uses of revenue stamps as postage. It’s a bit of a minefield, as these covers are frequently contrived. Additionally, the competition is quite fierce; I’ve ended up being the underbidder, or my bids not even executing because they’re too short, quite a bit as of late. To those who lament the demise or malaise in philately, I say “phooey!” It all depends on the areas you collect. In…

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Sometimes The Philatelic Aspects Of An Item Aren’t The Selling Point…

Sometimes The Philatelic Aspects Of An Item Aren’t The Selling Point…

… and so is the case with this item, an agent’s certificate from the National Ink Co. issued December 21, 1865. The philatelic usage is mundane, although it’s nice to have a clear “N. Ink Co.” manuscript cancel. No in this case, it’s the certificate itself that has all the appeal. A patriotic eagle vignette, and more importantly 3-color printing in red, blue, and metallic gold. That level of expense was by far the exception rather than the rule in…

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“Here’s the Story, of a Man Named Brady…”

“Here’s the Story, of a Man Named Brady…”

“… who was busy with three boys of his own..” No wait… sorry, different Brady. 😉 Mathew Brady was one of the most, if not THE most, prolific photographer of the Civil War. CDVs (Carte de Visites, an early form of photograph) from his studio are highly collectible, as he (and his employees) photographed many military subjects, as well as unusual subjects of the era such as circus freaks, native americans, etc. The CDVs appeal to military history collectors, Civil…

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A Different Sort of First Day Cover…

A Different Sort of First Day Cover…

Well, it’s not really a first day cover, but it sort of is to me. This is the one lot in last week’s Siegel’s sessions that I was interested in. I wasn’t sure what the competition would be like, and as luck would have it I was the only bidder, so I was able to get it for about half of low estimate. The listing writeup was as follows: 2c Trans-Mississippi (286). Used with two each 3c and 5c Battleship…

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The “Hoosier Daddy?!!” Stamp Show Report

The “Hoosier Daddy?!!” Stamp Show Report

Several weeks ago, I got a card in the mail for the Indiana Stamp Club Spring Fair, and it coincided with the first weekend of my vacation, so I gave some thought to going. I gave Denny Peoples a call, as in all likelihood he’d be the dealer I’d be buying the most from. He said he didn’t have much for me, and that since it was a club show, I was unlikely to find much up my alley. He…

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Tattered, Torn, Mangled, Bent, Folded, Spindled, and Mutilated

Tattered, Torn, Mangled, Bent, Folded, Spindled, and Mutilated

Yeah, but I like it anyway. I wish it had more context. Unfortunately, not even the cancel gives us a clue as to usage. It’s part of an oversized envelope or parcel front, franked with $13,792.65 in revenue stamps (assuming there weren’t others elsewhere that got removed). 2 complete strips of 4 and a single of R246 1 strip of 3 of R249 3 complete strips of 4 of R250 Not something you run into every day.

Sometimes It’s Worth Taking a Closer Look…

Sometimes It’s Worth Taking a Closer Look…

Wading through a stockbook of 1st issue revenue stamps this morning, and I stumbled across this 10-cent Bill of Lading (R32c) with a muddy indeterminate red cancel. I nearly just passed it by, but the ink voids in the cancel looked unusual, so I thought I’d run it through retroreveal. Lo and behold, it revealed a very interesting cancel, one I’ve not seen before, from the firm of Tong Soong & Co., San Francisco. The interesting voids that had caught…

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An Obviously Backdated 1st Issue Revenue Usage

An Obviously Backdated 1st Issue Revenue Usage

We’ve discussed in the past cases where a revenue stamp was presumably affixed after the fact and backdated to the original transaction date. Frequently these cases are speculative. Here is one that is definitive. The promissory note shown below, dated October 8, 1862, is an incredibly early usage, and is arguably the earliest known use of R64a… but there’s a problem. The 60-cent Inland Exchange wasn’t delivered until December of 1862, so it could not possibly have been affixed at…

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Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket!

Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket!

Well… not exactly, but a ticket nonetheless. This is one of the most unusual items I’ve seen several years. I know I ended up overpaying for it, but it falls under that category of “when will you ever see another one?” I’ve certainly never seen one before… and may not again. It is a Civil War-era photo (Carte de Visite or CDV) depicting the grand prize in a raffle, with the CDV also acting as a raffle ticket. So what…

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2018 Chicagopex, the Novel

2018 Chicagopex, the Novel

[Note: while I will mention dealers by name, I won’t mention collectors by name unless they volunteer themselves, as I don’t know that they necessarily would want their names and collecting focuses to be publicly displayed for the world to see.] It’s 5:00am Sunday morning as I start to type this. Third day of Chicagopex… exhausted, bordering on broke, but an eminently satisfying show. I had intended to drive up here Thursday morning like I usually do, but looking at…

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I’m Trailer Trash… and I Have the License to Prove It!

I’m Trailer Trash… and I Have the License to Prove It!

Extending my foray into 20th century revenues, I’d been keeping an eye out for a reasonably-priced example of Scott #RVT2, the $1 trailer permit stamp. The $1 stamp is moderately scarce, valued at $650 on license. The 50-cent stamp is considerably more scarce, appearing very infrequently on the market, so I didn’t even consider that one. So the combination of a (comparably) reasonable price and a 10% eBay coupon pushed me over the edge. This particular example is on a…

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The Downs and Ups of Bidding Blind…

The Downs and Ups of Bidding Blind…

Sitting through a lengthy auction session or multiple days of auction sessions when being shut out completely on intended lots is a dangerous place to be for someone with impulse control issues. 😉 After a while I’ll start looking at lots through the lens of “that might be fun to look through” or “Ooh, I wonder what could be hiding in there?” based solely on lot descriptions, so I might sneak in a wayward bid if something is well below…

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Short Circuit = Electric Evening!

Short Circuit = Electric Evening!

I’ve been receiving U.S. revenue stamp circuits from both the APS and the ARA (American Revenue Association) for years now. The pickings are few and are between though, and in most cases the amount I spend on shipping the circuit on usually exceeds the amount I purchase by a fair amount, which kinda kills the bargain aspect of the circuits. I’ve been toying with the idea of stopping them, but as infrequent as the finds are, over the years I’ve…

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Question About Revenue Stamped Paper RN-X7 Victoria Elevator Co. Receipts

Question About Revenue Stamped Paper RN-X7 Victoria Elevator Co. Receipts

Shown below are 3 different RN-X7 receipts from the Victoria Elevator Co., used in different cities in South Dakota. They are very similar. My question concerns the third one listed. What is the second transaction that would have incurred the additional tax, thus precipitating adding the battleship revenue stamp? I couldn’t find any exact comparables online. I thought it might have to do with the fact that it’s the only one out of the 3 that is actually signed, which…

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The Dangers of Being a Philatelic Hoarder…

The Dangers of Being a Philatelic Hoarder…

Or more accurately, the dangers of being a philatelic hoarder with impulse control issues. 😉 I’m hosting a U.S. revenue buy/sell/trade session before and during CHICAGOPEX next month, so I’m starting to put together the cartons of material I’ll be bringing with me. It’s material I’ve already plundered, material I bought for resale, and also lots of material intended for my collection that I just haven’t gotten around to processing/imaging. As I’m going through the material, some of the purchases…

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Ruh Roh… I Got a Tapeworm.

Ruh Roh… I Got a Tapeworm.

But the good kind, not the parasite… unless you want to consider what it did to my wallet 😉 I already had an example of RN-A11, but only the leftmost column (bank names and the revenue imprint) rather than the full document. Both are valued in Scott, with the full document being over 4x the value of just the left column ($1,100 vs. $250). This example showed up on eBay, I made an offer, and it was accepted. It’s called…

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Interesting Doubling on Text of Scott # Re147 Wine Stamp

Interesting Doubling on Text of Scott # Re147 Wine Stamp

I asked several collectors’ opinions via email and got a variety of responses, but no clear consensus. My original query: Good evening, How were the black elements in type RE7 (large size type of 1942) printed? I assume the large denomination was printed on the same pass as the small lettering, correct? It seems to me that the attached RE147 (2 images, one being a closeup of the black elements) is somewhat unusual. It exhibits clear doubling of the small…

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A third Pacific Mail Steamship Co. multi-ship cancel

A third Pacific Mail Steamship Co. multi-ship cancel

The first I purchased from Richard Friedberg in 2015: The second I purchased from Eric Jackson this past January: And now a third example, found at COMPEX yesterday. Two strikes from the ship HENRY CHAUNCEY and five strikes from the ship RISING STAR. This is the only example I’ve seen that has cancels in two different color inks. The vast majority of Pacific Mail Steamship Co. straight line ship cancels are stamped in blue ink, but the RISING STAR is…

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COMPEX 2018: I Came, I Saw, I… Was Sorely Disappointed.

COMPEX 2018: I Came, I Saw, I… Was Sorely Disappointed.

I guess they all can’t be great shows. If they were, we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones as much! Sigh. I left the house this morning at 6:30AM for the 3-hour drive up to River Grove, IL. This was a new venue this year for COMPEX, after many many years at the Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights, IL. The drive up was mostly uneventful, until the last 10 minutes or so. Unlike the old venue, the new one…

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It’s a small world after all. It’s a small world after all…

It’s a small world after all. It’s a small world after all…

… It’s a small world after all. It’s a small, small world! Philatelically speaking, that is… (And for those of you who now have that annoying Disney song running through your head: you’re welcome! 🙂 This is a bit long-winded, so please bear with the background information. One of the areas of U.S. revenues I specialize in is bisects on document. I maintain a census page on my website. Companies would bisect stamps if they ran out of the required…

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So I thought this was just an inking anomaly…

So I thought this was just an inking anomaly…

It’s amazing to me how sometimes seeing similar items over the years doesn’t resonate until you see more than one in close temporal proximity. I was looking through an APS circuit book shipment and saw a Scott # R82c ($2 Mortgage) with what appeared to be inking anomalies in the lower left corner. I paid it no never mind and continued onwards. In the same shipment, but in a different book from a different seller, I saw a suspiciously similar…

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Future Delivery provisional… manuscript style!

Future Delivery provisional… manuscript style!

There have been had discussions about the violet and black “F.D.” provisional handstamps that were authorized in December 1917 before officially overprinted stamps became available. However, I hadn’t seen any discussions about manuscript “F.D.” markings, somewhat to be expected, as off document there would be no way to know if they were legitimate. Additionally, while I’ve seen quite a few examples of the “F.D.” handstamps, I’d never seen manuscript equivalents… … until the item below was added to Eric Jackson’s…

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Another eBay gamble pays off… nice Future Delivery strip

Another eBay gamble pays off… nice Future Delivery strip

I spotted this on eBay last week, listed as “U.S: USED #RC20a STRIP/4 CV $240+ UNLISTED AS STRIP”. I’m not sure why RC20a isn’t listed as a strip of 4 when RC20 is listed as a strip. I hope to fix that when I submit my changes for the 2019 U.S. Specialized this summer. It doesn’t make sense to have one without the other. Current catalog value as 4 singles for RC20a is $280 (4 x $70) so the starting…

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A new Pacific Mail Steamship Co. item

A new Pacific Mail Steamship Co. item

I love me some Pacific Mail Steamship Co. cancels. They’re loads of fun and always in demand ($50 at the low end, up into several hundred for the scarcer ships or more dramatic multi-strike pieces). In 2014 I purchased from Richard Friedberg a very rare multi-ship piece, with three strikes of ALASKA and four strikes of ARIZONA. I surmised that these were canceled at a central office, and because the two words look similar (both begin and end with the…

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What is going on with this paper type?

What is going on with this paper type?

This one is very interesting. It is a late usage R1c on very thin translucent paper (which one would more frequently encounter on early printings not late printings) with a vertical mesh ala laid paper (see previous debates as to whether said laid paper exists on 1st issue revenues). Additionally, the surface of the back has odd impressions of circles and squiggles, almost like what you would see if someone doodled on the back with a pen without ink. I’ve…

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Unusual railroad cancel. Any thoughts?

Unusual railroad cancel. Any thoughts?

I saw this on eBay and it looked odd, so I figured I’d take a flyer on it. Scott R86c, the $3 Manifest, with a blue circular handstmp cancel, and then what upon receipt I initially thought was document offset… but now I don’t think so. There’s a large black ornately typeset boxed cancel (or what I believe is a cancel) that mirrors the company name used in the circular handstamp: Lehigh Valley Rail Road Co. The lightness of the…

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Oh, the humanity! Such a travesty…

Oh, the humanity! Such a travesty…

To quote Steve Buscemi from the movie Armageddon: “Wow, this is a goddamn Greek tragedy.” Not only did someone completely ravage documents cumulatively worth over a thousand dollars in today’s market, but they didn’t even care that they ripped through stamps in the process. What might have been some incredible exhibition pieces have been reduced to mere curiosities of nominal value. The combination usages with the Great Britain revenues, especially the one including the Nevada state revenue stamp would have…

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Sight draft with both U.S. and Canadian revenue stamps

Sight draft with both U.S. and Canadian revenue stamps

Just another piece of evidence to refute the claims that you can’t find anything good on eBay. This is an 1872 sight draft from Hamilton, Ontario to Boston, Mass., with a pair of Canada #FB51 and 2 singles of FB46 (Van Dam numbers) along with a single U.S. #R135. Documents with both U.S. and non-U.S. revenue stamps affixed are quite scarce, especially from the 1st-3rd issue era. Examples from the Spanish-American War era (1898-1901) are a bit more findable, but…

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Neat USPS presentation folder

Neat USPS presentation folder

I thrive on the odd and unusual, even if it’s outside my core area of 19th century U.S. revenues, so when I saw this on eBay I just had to have it. USPS presentation folders were special commemorative folders given to honored guests at USPS first day ceremonies (dignetaries, postal officials, etc.) in the mid-20th century. I have no idea if they still get produced. Usually black with gold embossing on the cover. Some contained full sheets of stamps, some…

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Ethics, schmethics! ASDA and APS be damned!

Ethics, schmethics! ASDA and APS be damned!

There oughtta be a law… I purchased this very item from Michael Aldrich in one of his previous auctions and subsequently returned it for not being described, along with several other items that had undisclosed faults, at which point he threatened to blacklist me from bidding in his auctions. The problem? The “few sm. margin thins” are not thins. They are facial scrapes, which are a COMPLETELY different animal. Moreover, the larger ones have been amateurly re-colored with crayon or…

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R152 double transfers?

R152 double transfers?

I just found a second example of what I believe to be a “twisted transfer” resulting in a doubling of the frameline at top right. Note that the length and separation of the frameline doubling is larger on the first example than the second example. Bart Rosenberg has told me he has an example with doubling in the bottom lettering, but I have not seen it. If anyone has any other examples of R152 DTs, I’d appreciate seeing them.

1-cent Trans-Missippi improper/illegal usages as revenues

1-cent Trans-Missippi improper/illegal usages as revenues

When this lot came up at Kelleher, I decided to bid on it. I already have several examples of the 2-cent Transmississippi (#286) used improperly as revenues on documents, but zero examples of the 1-cent (#285). This lot of 4 documents had not 1 but 2 examples of the 1-cent. The first is a horizontal pair on a July 16, 1898 check from Detroit Michigan, and the other is two singles on December 26, 1898 check from Sidney, New York,…

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Spanish American War patriotics and revenue usages

Spanish American War patriotics and revenue usages

If I were an exhibitor, which I’m not, an artistic exhibit on Spanish American War patriotic revenue usages would make for a lovely visual presentation. The tough thing would be coming up with enough different examples to comprise an exhibit. I’ve kept an eye out for the last 10 years and have only managed to acquire 3 examples, the last of which just arrived this week: Patriotic stationery used for a banking transaction. My other examples: Illegal usage of R155…

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Two Nice 1863 Express EMUs

Two Nice 1863 Express EMUs

Express documents are always fun… because they can come with revenues paying two different taxes, only the first of which is an express tax. The later documents are taxed as ordinary receipts. But both taxes were only in effect for relatively short periods, the Express tax from October 1, 1862 to March 31, 1863, and Receipt tax from August 1, 1864 to March 31, 1865. From Mike Mahler: You know the express companies lobbied to have the original Express stamp…

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COMPEX – I came, I saw, I purchased…

COMPEX – I came, I saw, I purchased…

I hit the road this morning for COMPEX at about 7AM, normally a nice easy drive of 2.5 hours door to door. However, it’s Construction Season here in The Peoples Republic of Illinois, compounded by torrential rains all the way there. All in all, NOT a pleasant drive. Nevertheless, I arrived about 10 minutes before the show opened, and there were roughly 25 people waiting to get in. Shortly after the show opened there was a moment of silence in…

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Use of demonetized postage as revenue

Use of demonetized postage as revenue

This one is interesting. There’s a lot going on, and some head-scratchers… enough for me to have some questions about its legitimacy. Here are the front and back of the document: I sent out the following inquiry to several revenue experts: File under “hard to fully discern from eBay images”. It’s not until you get it in hand that one can fully evaluate. See attached high-res images. On the side with the demonetized postage, it’s overpaying the tax by 1…

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I wish this was a complete document instead of just a fragment…

I wish this was a complete document instead of just a fragment…

Single examples of the 2-cent Trans-Missippi can be found used illegally as revenues, usually priced in the $100-200 range depending on the document. The example below, with a pair and two singles on a fragment of a promisssory note would have been a superb exhibit-quality item were it complete. Oh, the items that have been destroyed over the ages… the humanity! (or is it the philately!)? There’s a seller on eBay that has two separate listings of R126 ($3.50 second…

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Sometimes you actually do want to remove revenue stamps from a document/piece.

Sometimes you actually do want to remove revenue stamps from a document/piece.

Normally, I don’t ever remove revenue stamps from documents or document fragments, but I just encountered a case where removing the stamps was the prudent thing to do IMO. Shown below is an R41a multiple that I purchased on eBay. It was sold as a block of 4 plus a single, when in fact it is an irregular block of 5, making it the 4th largest known multiple per the Curtis census. It has issues though: the stamp at upper…

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Lovely pair of 1st issue 50-cent bisect documents

Lovely pair of 1st issue 50-cent bisect documents

1st-3rd issue bisects on document is one of my favorite areas to collect. I’ve been maintaining a census of bisect documents for several years. Scott lists and values bisects only in the most arbitrary manner. Their pricing is based primarily on denomination rather than actual type, and frequently bears little correlation to actual scarcity. Since they won’t adjust values unless there are reported auction sale results, and most large auction houses don’t lot bisects as single lots since the existing…

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So… did the scrounging gods favor me a second time?

So… did the scrounging gods favor me a second time?

Ala the Penthouse Forum of days of yore: “I never thought anything like this would happen to me…” 😉 Some of you may recall my finding an R15e (2-cent USIR on green paper) in an eBay lot back in 2014 that turned out to be genuine. I submitted it to the Philatelic Foundation and it got a clear cert. I chronicled the events and did some rudimentary research compiling an R15e census in an earlier blog post. First, let me…

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HHeeyy bbuuddddyy! GGoott aa ssmmookkee??

HHeeyy bbuuddddyy! GGoott aa ssmmookkee??

I don’t normally collect non-Scott-listed deep back of book material, but I do love plate and printing anomalies, especially ones with nice aesthetics. I had my eye on this one for quite some time, but simply wasn’t willing to pony up the money. Well, an opportunity presented itself to make the stamp part of a trade, which lowered the cost considerably, so I bit. Springer # TA236b, double impression. Fairly dramatic, more so than most 20th century double impressions one…

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What was the taxable transaction on this bond coupon?

What was the taxable transaction on this bond coupon?

Great aesthetics, but I’ve never seen revenue stamps affixed to individual bond coupons before. Redemption as part of the estate settlement? I’ve tried to find similar examples online, but to no avail. Thoughts? Response from revcollector (Bart Rosenberg): Since it is marked by the estate, it would appear that the original person to receive the money died so the money went to the heirs. That transfer is probably the reason for the tax. I have the 1898 laws put away…

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Argh matey! Shiver me timbers!

Argh matey! Shiver me timbers!

A new acquisition, one of the coolest revenue fancy cancels, part of a skull and crossbones on an R14c. Credit for the research on this one goes to Bruce Baryla: This ‘Skull and Bones’ handstamp was known to collectors of fancy handstamps by its appearance as a ‘sender’s mark’ on covers mailed in 1857 by the ‘Society of Twenty-Two,’ a Yale University based fraternal group associated with the famous Skull and Bones Society. This same handstamp was used years later…

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This 1868 revenue document hits all of the sweet spots!

This 1868 revenue document hits all of the sweet spots!

Purchased from an eBay seller in Germany, this is an R15c on an attractive foreign exchange with two vignettes from the European Exchange Office of C. F. Adae, a Cincinnati, Ohio banking house. Notice that all of the wording of the document is in German. Not only is there a German Prussian revenue stamp also affixed to the reverse (combination usages of both U.S. and non-U.S. revenue stamps on the same document from this era are quite scarce), but the…

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“One of these things is not like the other…”

“One of these things is not like the other…”

It’s interesting how differences between otherwise similar items don’t always present themselves until or unless you are looking at a group of those items. I was doing my normal eBay browsing, this time in stock certificates, and noticed what I saw to be an anomaly. Utilizing my Google-fu and compiling a library of images of similar certificates, it turns out it may be more rare than I initially thought. Then again, as we all know, rare doesn’t necessarily mean valuable…

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Illegal use of 2c Pan American as revenue… but is it legit?

Illegal use of 2c Pan American as revenue… but is it legit?

When I purchased this a year ago, I didn’t realize just how scarce an item it actually is; it just happened to fit into my collection of illegal usages. It turns out it’s much more scarce than I initially thought. The 2-cent Trans Mississippi (Scott 286) can be found used illegally as revenues, usually ranging from $100-250 on document. They’re not common, but can be found. I have 5 examples on documents and another single not on document. They’re out…

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Color shade and paper variance in U.S. Wine stamps

Color shade and paper variance in U.S. Wine stamps

I normally don’t do much with 20th century U.S. revenues, but I had an opportunity to purchase an accumulation of unused wine stamps originating from a winery in Ohio. No high-cat items, just lots of quantity, which provides an opportunity to view a cross section of color shades and papers. The Scott catalogue states the following: “Nos. RE32-RE55 exist in many shades.” Well, it’s not just shades, but there is also a difference in papers as well. Most were printed…

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Savior for documents/stock certs/etc.: archival mending tissue

Savior for documents/stock certs/etc.: archival mending tissue

If you collect revenue documents, stock certificates, etc., especially 100-200 years old, you’ll frequently encounter documents that have become brittle and split. Additionally, there are frequently issues with cut and punch cancels that make the documents susceptible to further damage in transport and handling. You want to stabilize the document while at the same time you do not want to impact the visual presentation or introduce acid-based repair materials (tape). I swear by Lineco’s “Archival Mending Tissue”. It has helped…

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A Saturday stamp show trip

A Saturday stamp show trip

I drove up the MSDA (Midwest Stamp Dealer Association) show in Lombard, IL today. I’ve been going for the last 4 years or so. Even though most of the dealers are ones I saw at CHICAGOPEX in November, this show is a good “follow-up” opportunity; i.e., if there was anything I passed over, this was an opportunity to pick it up, or if a dealer and I discussed material they hadn’t brought with them, they could bring to this show….

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A change in perspective…

A change in perspective…

I’ve had a slight change in perspective on the stamp below. I initially thought it was possibly the initials of the signatories to the document the stamp originally was on, but instead of reading it left to right, try reading it top to bottom. What you potentially end up with is: R-R-R WELSH R-R-R or: RIRIR WELSH RIRIR I think it more likely the former given the difference in stroke length between the ones at top and bottom (if they…

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Help needed: 1st-3rd issue revenue double impression census

Help needed: 1st-3rd issue revenue double impression census

I’m working on a census of 1st-3rd issue revenue double impressions for my website, similar to the bisect census page that I’ve already published. Initial work can be found here: Double Impressions Census If anyone has any of the following information, I would greatly appreciate it: Any examples not shown or listed. High resolution images of the actual stamps where I only show low-res images that I obtained from auction catalogs or the PF archive. Public auction appearances that I…

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Local show report and revenue pickups

Local show report and revenue pickups

My local show CUPEX was this past weekend. Sadly, the attendance was the worst I can recall. Other than club members, I doubt that we had 100 people through the doors over both days. One dealer said that this would be his final year attending due to the attendance, and another announced that he is retiring in the spring. Another said that this is the third consecutive show he has attended where the turnout has been abysmal. Some speculated that…

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Great Civil War satirical piece

Great Civil War satirical piece

This CDV isn’t all that interesting philatelically. Rather it is the front that is of greatest interest: a patriotic satire ridiculing the Confederacy that shows Jefferson Davis in a dress. The caption reads ‘Brutal attack on helpless women by the U.S. government’. The dialogue has a woman saying ‘You had better not provoke the president, he might hurt some of you’ and a Union soldier replying ‘Yer dont say’. A reply from another collector: I believe there is some truth…

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1919 parcel tage with great selection of stamps

1919 parcel tage with great selection of stamps

I’ve seen various 20th century parcel tags with revenues affixed paying parcel tax, and wanted to add an example to my collection, but never got around to picking one up. I saw this one and just had to have it. Likely not the most important usage philatelically, but It’s got great visual aesthetics and a very eclectic mix of stamps and other attributes: Scott C1 and C3 airmails. A block of four of Scott 531, one-cent imperforate. Split precancel on…

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Recent acquisitions

Recent acquisitions

A bunch of items from various sources: eBay, Siegel, and Eric Jackson auctions. First, a common stamp, R13c, but look at those jumbo margins! I’ve always liked the 1-cent Proprietary 1st issue imperf (RB1c) and have several examples. This is a margin imprint block of 6. Faulty, but most multiples are. Two additions to my fractional rate tax document collection. First is an R206 and R210 paying 4.5 cents tax on a fire insurance policy. Next is a very attractive…

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A few new acquisitions from the latest Aldrich auction

A few new acquisitions from the latest Aldrich auction

Despite the minefield of spurious items in the auction, there were still some pieces of interest. I was outbid on several items, but wound up with 3. First, an uncommon example of a very common stamp. A jumbo example of R5a with a blue 1863 Wells Fargo handstamp cancel. Presumably an upper-left or upper-right sheet corner position. Those side margins are so large, I’m surprised that the next stamp at right (or left) is not visible. Next, an R41a that…

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Matched pair of 20th century double transfers

Matched pair of 20th century double transfers

I haven’t been working on my revenue collection for a while, so it’s time to get back into things again… U.S. Scott R249 (red numerals) and R249a (orange numerals) both with a double transfer throughout. Not incredibly rare, but considerably more scarce than the Scott catalog values imply ($62.50 vs $50 for the normal stamp). I picked up the orange numerals example about 5 months ago and found the red numerals example on eBay 2 weeks ago. This is an…

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Finally harpooned one of my white whales!

Finally harpooned one of my white whales!

When I first started collecting U.S. revenues about 15 years ago, I neglected to follow some sage advice from my coin collecting days: “Buy the keys first!” What this means is that if you have the ability, buy the key dates or key pieces first… the rarest or highest catalog values FIRST. Most people, myself included, do the exact opposite, starting with the most common, cheapest, and/or easiest to find material. It’s the exact WRONG way to go about building…

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New revenue error discovery?

New revenue error discovery?

Scott #R184-189 were issued in 1900, open-numeral surcharges on gray stamp depicting an allegorical commerce statue. In 1902, a similar series was issued (R190-R194), but on green stamps and the surcharge was filled with an ornamental design. Apparently along the way they had some production issues and used the wrong surcharge on the wrong stamp, resulting in the green stamp being overprinted with the 1900 surcharge. This is listed as Scott R191a. There also was a variant with the surcharge…

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10-cent Trans-Mississippi used as revenue on document

10-cent Trans-Mississippi used as revenue on document

This was a nice acquisition. The 2-cent Trans-Mississipis are findable on bank checks, and usually sell in the $100-200 range, but the other denominations are quite scarce used as revenues. This one is on a marriage license and certificate, paying the correct 10-cent tax. You can see the foxed impression of the stamp at top where it laid when the document was folded.

Two interesting Civil War stock certificates

Two interesting Civil War stock certificates

Just got these two in this week. This first one is a nice early usage of a tougher imperf (R36a catalogs $500). What I don’t quite get is the tax rate. A certificate tax for an incorporated company should have been 25 cents, whereas the 10-cent rate was reserved for unincorporated companies and “other” usages. From Bart Rosenberg: The reason for the ten cent tax is because the first is not a stock certificate. It is scrip for the transfer…

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Battleship revenue used as a patriotic label/cinderella

Battleship revenue used as a patriotic label/cinderella

I picked up this cover on eBay. At first glance it looks like an improper/illegal use of a battleship revenue as postage, but I don’t believe it is. It is a Spanish-American War patriotic cover sent to Germany via steamship S.S. Augusta Victoria. I believe the correct rate for the cover would have been 10 cents, so the revenue stamp was not needed for postage. Instead, in keeping with the theme of the cover, I believe the intent was as…

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A Saturday morning stampshow jaunt…

A Saturday morning stampshow jaunt…

This past Saturday dawned with the promise of higher-than-usual temperatures for December, with highs expected in the mid-60s, so nice weather to drive to a stamp show. The MSDA winter show at the Lindner Conference Center in Lombard, IL is an easy 2.5-hour drive. The show opened at 10am, so I hit the road at 7:00 just in case there were delays. Glad I did, as 3/4 of the drive was pea soup fog. 75mph through fog is all sorts…

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Just a gorgeous revenue document and cancel

Just a gorgeous revenue document and cancel

I hid in the weeds for this one on eBay, and got it for a song. This document has it all: railroad, steamship/maritime, and a pair of wonderful cancels. It is a receipt for ship transport via Merchants Navigation and Transportation Co. steamer ‘Commonwealth’ from Silas Pierce & Co. to the Boston & Providence Railroad. There is a crisp railroad receiving datestamp (unlisted in Tolman) at top right center, and then an absolutely superb ‘E.J. Smith’ script handstamp cancel tying…

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Well that’s one mystery solved!

Well that’s one mystery solved!

Sometimes fate cooperates; the timing on this is wonderful though. I picked up the following document at CHICAGOPEX, primarily because it looked like a potentially interesting cancel design that I might be able to pull out of the image. When I ran the cancel through Retroreveal, lo and behold a familar design appeared: Less than a month ago I picked up a gorgeous example of this cancel, but had been unable to determine its origin. Well, mystery solved: E. P….

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Chicago – The Windy… err, “Snowy” City

Chicago – The Windy… err, “Snowy” City

I just got back from CHICAGOPEX about 2 hours ago. A wonderful weekend, made a bit longer than previous years… I drove up on Thursday, the day before the show, as I always do. I met Bart Rosenberg at about noon. We’ve been corresponding electronically for years; it was great to finally meet in person. Later in the afternoon I met up with Eric Jackson who brought me a carton lot to go through. We went to dinner at Shula’s…

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Two different proprietary crown revenue cancels

Two different proprietary crown revenue cancels

So many unattributed cancels… The first cancel shown below shows up every now and then. I’ve seen 3-5 examples offered over the years. The second one below showed up on eBay a few weeks ago, one I have not seen before. From a distance, the cancel almost looks like an amorphous blob or smudge, which is why presumably I was the only bidder. It’s definitely a crown though, but different from the first one. Not sure if it is the…

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Butter fat revenue usage?

Butter fat revenue usage?

A gentleman at the local show yesterday had two of these, that he believes to be postage improperly used as revenues. There was one with a 2-cent coil affixed, and this one with a 3-cent coil affixed, both on these partial envelope remnants and both with the same straight line handstamp. He offered me one gratis and I chose this one, as it also had the little slip shown below contained inside it. What exactly is this and what is…

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Unlisted double transfer on a tough silk paper

Unlisted double transfer on a tough silk paper

I never actually got around to adding to my website the 3 sheets of the best stamps that I had pulled from the Chicagopex hoard last November, the ones that I would have purchased as singles had I not been able to buy the entire collection. Included on those sheets was a lovely example of Scott # R13d, one of the tougher silk papers, less common than the $175 catalog value implies. So as I’m imaging it for the website…

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Two battleship-era fancy script handstamp cancels

Two battleship-era fancy script handstamp cancels

I don’t do much with battleship-era material, but when I see something that captures my aesthetic fancy, I pick it up. First is a document fragment from the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. Next is a great stock certificate from the British-American Gold Mining Co. with lengthy script handstamp cancel.

Another opening, another show!

Another opening, another show!

…as the Broadway tune goes. COMPEX was this weekend up in Arlington Heights. As with most shows up in the Chicagoland area, rather then dealing with the fustercluck of traffic and construction the day of the show, I made the 3-hour drive the afternoon before and stayed at a hotel about 10 minutes away from the show… infinitely preferable to stressing about possibly being late due to unforeseen circumstances en route. In short: I despise Chicagoland traffic. I would go…

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Another successful soak

Another successful soak

This one turned out very well, in my opinion. Not a sound stamp, but infinitely more attractive now. I bought it on eBay specifically for a soaking attempt, thinking that I might be able to improve it. Warm to hot water, a few drops of dish soap, about 3 minutes using tongs to “pull” the stamp through the water, then a rinse in clean water, and then 3 days in a Desert Magic drying book with about 30 pounds of…

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Very scarce Pacific Mail Steamship Co. Item

Very scarce Pacific Mail Steamship Co. Item

Amongst collectors of U.S. revenues, the straight-line handstamp cancels from the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. are very popular and highly sought-after. Each cancel is the name of a ship that was used by the company, names including amongst others: China Japan Alaska Arizona Great Republic Henry Chauncey Montana Oregonian Rising Star Ocean Queen The cancels are visually very attractive. Examples in my collection can be found here. A simplistic valuation model would go as follows: As a baseline, each strike…

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Two that got away…

Two that got away…

Two lots that I bid on this past weekend that I got completely blown out of the water on. Both went considerably higher than I expected. Scott R194 $50 on 1900 stock entittlement, Atlantic, Valdosta & Western Rwy. SCV = $1,250. Sold for $1,320 including 10% buyer premium. The certificate is dated 1900, but the stamp wasn’t issued intil 1902. So either (1) the tax was paid retroactively, (2) there was a stock transfer or other transaction, or (3) this…

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Revenue acquisitions from last week’s Indianapolis show

Revenue acquisitions from last week’s Indianapolis show

Here are my revenue pickups from this past weekend’s show in Indianapolis. Let’s start off with the stamps… just a few of them. First a nice jumbo example of R5c. Not bad for 20 cents. 🙂 Next, an RB2a double transfer, but a different one from the one I found a year or so ago. Here are the diagnostics from the first one and then the new one. I have read references to stitch watermarks on 1st issue revenues, but…

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Just flew back from Indianapolis, and boy are my arms tired!

Just flew back from Indianapolis, and boy are my arms tired!

(well, drove actually…) Just walked through the door after a fun-filled philatelic day. Normally I do COMPEX as a Spring show, but I decided to change things up this year a bit and do the Indiana Stamp Club spring show instead. Last year COMPEX was kinda “meh” for me and almost all the dealers there are dealers I see at CHICAGOPEX anyway… with a few minor exceptions: stale inventory. On the other hand, even though the show today was tiny…

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Some new unlisted R5c double transfers

Some new unlisted R5c double transfers

I’ve started going through the smaller of the two hoards I bought at Chicagopex, examining for cancels, plate varieties, printing anomalies, etc. These 3 examples of R5c proved interesting. If you click on each image, it will increase to 1600 dpi. At first glance, this one looks like an inking anomaly or a kiss impression, but the doubling is prominent in some places but nonexistent in others. The next two are very similar, both double transfers not listed in Scott….

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Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

Well… not exactly. I saw the part perforate pair below on eBay. It’s a moderately tough item, cataloging $250 for a single stamp and $600 for a pair. This one definitely fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Stained and toned throughout. I figured I’d gamble and put in a bid, thinking that I might possibly be able to improve it somewhat. I won the pair for 10% of Scott. Not exactly a…

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Identifying R13e (2-cent Proprietary ultramarine)

Identifying R13e (2-cent Proprietary ultramarine)

This is one of the most misidentified stamps on the part of dealers and collectors, compounded by a lack of specificity on the part of the Scott catalog. Like R97, R13 comes in the same 3 distinct shades: blue, milky blue, and ultramarine. However, unlike the former, Scott does not have a listing for all 3 colors of the latter. Personally, I think this needs to change, but that’s a tough sell with the editors. With R13c, the blue and…

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Got a New Walker & Taylor Cancel

Got a New Walker & Taylor Cancel

This item wasn’t cheap, but I was quite happy to get it. The Walker & Taylor 10-line cancel is one of the more sought-after revenue cancels. I have several examples on R13c (2-cent Proprietary). It routinely sells for $100-150. I paid almost double the high end for this one, but IMO it’s not your normal example: The Walker & Taylor 10-line is considerably less common on 1-cent denominations than on 2-cent. The 1870 dated version of the cancel is much…

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Sometimes eBay Hands You a Bonus

Sometimes eBay Hands You a Bonus

I spotted this stamp in a $5.99 eBay junk lot and thought it might be legit. Upon receiving the stamp, not only was it what I thought it was, I discovered what I believe to be a double transfer at top. I confirmed with Karl Lachemacher that it is plate position 23, the Scott listed DT (there are two other plate positions that have DT, one even more dramatic than this position). So that was a nice litle bonus. Followup…

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Oh my. This was unexpcted…

Oh my. This was unexpcted…

The last several nights, I’ve been going through the smaller of the two bulk lots I got at CHICAGOPEX, pulling items to sell to a collector who plates various 1st issue revenues. I didn’t find anything spectacular, just a few silk papers and a few very minor double transfers. I finished up with that lot and tonight I started on the big lot. Throughout the entire 12 volumes are various and sundry stamps turned face down with pencil notations on…

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Two Very Rare Imperfs

Two Very Rare Imperfs

One just arrived yesterday and the other came back from the Philatelic Foundation yesterday, so it seemed like a good time to write about these. Full-sized images at the bottom of this post. Scott does not list any second issue imperforates, but logically speaking, since sewing machine perforated varieties are known for R112 (25 cents), R115 (50 cents), and R120 ($1.50), as well as a privately perforated gauge 8 of the R112, by extension imperforates must therefore exist. The Philatelic…

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The Sad Demise of The Stamp Forum at Delphi

The Sad Demise of The Stamp Forum at Delphi

[Disclaimer: My comments are in no way to be construed as criticisms of either Dana or Dennis, the other two moderators over at Delphi. I want to make that clear from the start.] I know that people are talking about this on various philatelic forums, but the real story of what is happening at the Delphi stamp forum, aka “Stamp Collecting Forum” is not being seen, due to the forum host deleting all inquiries and opposing viewpoints and banning everyone…

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Finding a Truly Scarce Stamp in an eBay Collection

Finding a Truly Scarce Stamp in an eBay Collection

As much fun as it is to acquire a rare stamp as a single from a dealer at a stamp show, a brick & mortar stamp shop, or at auction, there’s something absolutely exhilarating about pulling a rare stamp from a collection or bulk lot… it’s a feeling of discovery, a triumph over the wilderness, beating the odds. 😉 I spotted the stamp in the following page (actual eBay image) from a 4-stockbook revenue lot on eBay. Of course the…

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A Nice Little Mixture Find

A Nice Little Mixture Find

I plucked this stamp from an eBay box lot of mostly reds and greens stuffed randomly in glassines, the majority perfin canceled as expected, but even some better ones amongst those. There was enough quantity and enough variety as far as denominations visible in the auction pictures that I figured there might be some sleepers. The stamp is not perfin or cut canceled, but it does have staple holes at center. Regardless, a nice find in any condition; a tough…

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What the Sam Hill Is Going On Around Here?

What the Sam Hill Is Going On Around Here?

I wish this were still on the original document, as I’d love to know the context… The origins of the expression “like Sam Hill” or “What the Sam Hill?” are unclear. The best explanation I’ve seen posited: http://www.word-detective.com/080401.html The explanation of “Sam Hill” is actually pretty simple — it’s an early 19th century American euphemism for “hell” used as an oath. Perhaps due to our Puritan ancestry, Americans have always been especially creative when it comes to inventing linguistic detours…

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A pet peeve: “Mint revenue, Scott unlisted, RARE!”

A pet peeve: “Mint revenue, Scott unlisted, RARE!”

[Let me preface by saying that this is MY personal opinion. It may not reflect that of other collectors of U.S. revenue stamps. Some may consider it to be splitting hairs, but I believe the distinction to be an important one.] There’s nothing more annoying to me than when I see one of the 1st-3rd issue U.S. revenues offered, whether on eBay, Bidstart, the StampStore, at auction, or in a show dealer’s stock, as “Mint, Scott unlisted, rare, LQQK!”… and…

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A Very Nice 1st Issue Silk Paper

A Very Nice 1st Issue Silk Paper

Discovered in an eBay lot I purchased last month. 1st issue silk papers are one of the areas I focus on, as they (1) are a virtually impossible set to complete, (2) are frequently misdentified, both falsely positive and missed entirely, and (3) are very “cherrypickable”, even from established and knowledgeable dealers. I’ve put together a reference page for identifying 1st issue silks. One of the things that adds to the difficulty of collecting silk papers of the 1st issue,…

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Damaged Stamps Deserve Love Too!

Damaged Stamps Deserve Love Too!

Just received today courtesy of eBay. While technically the stamps in question are damaged, they were done so in a very interesting and aesthetically pleasing manner. This document was originally written up in the February 1979 issue of The American Revenuer: A $2.50 Conveyance—Entry of Goods Provisional Illustrated here must be what would be called the only known example of a First Issue $2.50 Conveyance stamp (or is it an Entry of Goods stamp?). The stamp is on a document…

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Some Recent Acquisitions…

Some Recent Acquisitions…

It’s been a while since I posted some of my revenue pick-ups. While COMPEX was, comparatively speaking, a failure for me, I have been picking up items online. Excluding the items I picked up for resale purposes, here are some of the keepers for my collection. First, a nice mining bond. Apparently there’s a hoard of these out there, so they are not commanding the cost that mining bonds and stock certificates normally get. A nice bottom margin example of…

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Another Neat Item for My Illegal/Improper Use Collection

Another Neat Item for My Illegal/Improper Use Collection

As with so many other things I come across, I really wish these were still on the original document, as context is everything. What makes this Scott #14 strip of 3 especially unusual is that they were used as revenues a full 6 years after being demonetized (no longer valid for postage). From Wikipedia: The second, more serious, demonetization was prompted by the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. Southern post offices held substantial U.S. assets in the…

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A Nice Mixed U.S.-French Usage

A Nice Mixed U.S.-French Usage

It’s too bad that this is only a piece and not the complete document. Very attractive handstamp cancel with a French revenue also used on this piece of a sight draft. I haven’t seen many examples of U.S.-foreign revenue usages form the Civil War era.

South Carolina Railroad Cerificates of Indebtedness

South Carolina Railroad Cerificates of Indebtedness

I’ve taken a shine to the lovely 2-sided certificates of indebtedness from The South Carolina Railroad Company. All used examples I’ve seen have revenue stamps affixed and are canceled in 1866. What drew me to these are not only the aesthetics (the reverse reminds me of currency designs of the period), but the unusual denominations in which they are available. I have obtained examples of the following denominations: $7.50 $15 $17.50 $35 $75 $175 They all have 5-cent 1st issue…

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An Attractive Masonic Document

An Attractive Masonic Document

Of little interest philatelically, but when I saw it couldn’t pass it up. The red and green printing make for wonderful contrast and the embossed cancel (seal) is just absolutely hammered. I’ve also included a copy of the text printed on the back of the document.

Some New Jumbo Revenue Stamps

Some New Jumbo Revenue Stamps

I previously posted about an R21c, 4-cent Playing Cards, that I picked up at Chicagopex because it was pristine as far as condition and centering. Well, for the last several weeks I’ve had an eye on a comparable R17c (3-cent playing cards). Nice centering on the R17c isn’t quite as scarce as on the R21c, but they are still not very common both sound and well centered. This one, however, was also a jumbo margin example (for the type), which…

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New Revenue Acquisitions from CHICAGOPEX

New Revenue Acquisitions from CHICAGOPEX

I finally finished imaging the goodies I picked up at or about the same time as CHICAGOPEX. The vast majority of my acquisitions came from Mike Morrissey’s exhibit and collection of 2nd issue (R103-R133) and 3rd issue (R134-R151) revenue stamps. Let’s start off with some documents, the majority chosen for their cancels, with the exception of the Aetna document, which was chosen for the aesthetics of the document itself. Now on to the stamps… First, a lovely R106 with great…

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A “Condition Rarity”

A “Condition Rarity”

The term “condition rarity” is a numismatic term that refers to a coin that, while is not in and of itself rare (which would be an “absolute rarity”), is in a grade or state of preservation that makes it rare. In other words, a condition rarity is an item that is rare in high grades, whereas an absolute rarity is rare in ANY grade. Philatelically speaking, a U.S. C3a, 1869 invert, or Pan Am invert would be an absolute rarity,…

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A Different Kind of Illegal Revenue Usage…

A Different Kind of Illegal Revenue Usage…

The vast majority of illegal usages I have encountered are either postage stamps used as revenues on a document, or revenue stamps used as postage on postcards or covers. Here’s one that’s a bit different, acquired laste weekend at CHICAGOPEX. Illegal use of a revenue, not as postage, but rather as a postage due stamp. The 1-cent Franklin was cancelled on September 8, 1927. You can see the penciled ‘Due’ notation peeking out from underneath the revenue stamp. Then the…

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A Jumbo… and an Almost

A Jumbo… and an Almost

Just imaged these tonight. The R45a has ginormous boardwalk margins, almost as if it was cut down from a multiple at the height of the grading craze (which never really took hold in the revenue-collecting community outside of Momen Stamps and Jay Parrino’s The Mint). The R112 is ohhhhhh so close to being a once-in-a-lifetime specimen… just 1 margin away.

I Know It’s Likely Bogus, but DAMN!

I Know It’s Likely Bogus, but DAMN!

I know that R30b does not exist, so this had to have been trimmed, but that had to have been the absolute tallest R30c ever made. I can only assume that it was a miseperfed bottom margin single (you can see part of the next stamp above) or the planets somehow aligned and it was misperfed away from this row in both directions. Regardless of being a fake, I still think it’s a neat-looking item.

An Example of Crappy QC Creating Jumbos

An Example of Crappy QC Creating Jumbos

It’s no secret that the production quality during the Civil War was virtually nonexistent. They were so rushed to produce revenue stamps that it didn’t matter how the sheets were perforated… if they were perforated at all. This block is a perfect example of typical shoddy workmanship from the period. Both the horizontal and vertical perfs are all over the map, creating the stamp in the 2nd column, 2nd row (the stamp immediately beneath it isn’t too bad either). First…

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3 Connected Stencil Canceled Items

3 Connected Stencil Canceled Items

Over the last 6 months I have purchased a very large amount of material from Bruce Baryla’s gold medal winning exhibit, The Civil War Sun Tax as he’s been breaking it down on eBay. I’m slowly but surely now making my way through processing and imaging the material. One of the lots I bought was a pair of Civil War CDVs containing two different stencil designs used by R.E. Merrifield of Shelby, Ohio. It goes perfectly along with a 3rd…

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On the Next Episode of Philatelic Hoarders…

On the Next Episode of Philatelic Hoarders…

Sometimes you see a messy mountain of material that you just HAVE to have. The mess shown below is on its way to me. 6 volumes of U.S. and worldwide revenues, locals, cinderellas, cut squares, and other miscellany. It just keeps going… My assumption is that virtually all of the U.S. locals, newspaper stamps, and Confederates are fakes/reprints/facsimiles (actually, most of the newspaper stamps are printed as such). It’s definitely a “quantity over quality” lot, as at least amongst the…

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So… How Do You Like Your Eggs?

So… How Do You Like Your Eggs?

I just got this one in the mail today, a very scarce R18c double transfer commonly referred to as ‘eggs north’, where the outlines of the numeral ovals are transposed to the north. There is also an ‘eggs west’ (which I am still looking for) although that DT is not as bold as this one. The second image is much higher resolution with the DT elements highlighted. It looks like there might also be something going on through the tops…

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And It’s 4, 5, 6 Strikes You’re Out…

And It’s 4, 5, 6 Strikes You’re Out…

Pacific Mail steamship cancels are very sought after. You normally encounter them with 1-3 strikes of the cancel on a stamp. As a general rule, the more identifiable strikes on a stamp, the higher the market value. Also, the greater the visual contrast between cancel and stamp, the better. For example, since virtually all Pacfic Mail cancels are in blue ink, the examples on 2nd issue revenues and the $3 denominations of the 1st issue do not make as aesthetically…

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Finally! An R53a I Am Content With

Finally! An R53a I Am Content With

I wanted to hold off posting about this one until it came back from the Philatelic Foundation. The vast majority of claimed R53a on the market are fakes, and there are even arguments that they all are, since there are no horizontal pairs known to exist. I’ve handled any number, both with and without certs, and very rarely do I encounter one that seems plausible. Well, at COMPEX I happened to be going through Gary Posner’s inventory and stumbled across…

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Revenue Goodies from COMPEX

Revenue Goodies from COMPEX

I’ve finished imaging the revenues I picked up this past weekend at COMPEX. No major finds but a few nice pieces. I did send 2 stamps that I bought on extension to the PF on Monday, and if they end up being good I’ll post them. The one item in particular is about the most aesthetically pleasing example of its type that a cancel collector will find, as the vast majority are found with manuscript cancels. So… on to the…

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Illegal Revenue Use on Cover… But Slightly Different

Illegal Revenue Use on Cover… But Slightly Different

20th-century revenues used illegally as postage on covers are neat items, but as a general rule are not extremely scarce or valuable unless there is something extremely unusual about the cover or usage. Simple examples are usually $15-30 items. Well, last week on eBay I stumbled across a usage I’d never seen before: revenues used as postage dues. As Bart pointed out to me, it would not have been unusual for a post office to have revenue stamps on hand…

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A Pair of Wonderful Civil War CDVs (Photographs)

A Pair of Wonderful Civil War CDVs (Photographs)

Just got these two in today. Both are exceptional pieces, in my opinion. The first is a very nice example of R17c (3-cent Playing Cards), which is fairly uncommon on a CDV. More importantly though, it is sound (most are not) and has wonderful deep color. The subject matter is military, which is always in demand. Second is a piece that I hemmed and hawed over buying, but ultimately decided I had to own. It is currently the only reported…

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Revenue Quiz Time!

Revenue Quiz Time!

Tell me what you can about the item below. This image is the only piece of information you have, and it is at full size. If you saw this on eBay, how would you proceed? Giving you some spoiler space so as not to give it away… There was enough fuzziness around the edges of the stamp that it bothered me. Although the odds were very much against it, I thought it was worth checking out. I asked the seller…

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First Stamp Company Stock Certificate?

First Stamp Company Stock Certificate?

In December 2012, Robert Siegel held a multi-day auction containing, among other things, the collection and exhibit material of the late Steven Belasco. Hidden within that material was a lot containing 10 examples of one of the coolest philatelic items I’ve ever seen: presumably the first stock certificates ever issued for a U.S. stamp company, issued in 1866. I bid aggressively on the lot, but ultimately came up the underbidder. I was able to find out who outbid me and…

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Sunday Morning… Bored… Let’s Go to a Stamp Show!

Sunday Morning… Bored… Let’s Go to a Stamp Show!

This past weekend was the first weekend of my Christmas vacation (I hadn’t had a chance to use more than 2-3 vacation days all year long, so I have a bunch to burn up). With nothing on the docket, and really feeling in a “philatelic mood” on the spur of the moment I decided to drive up to the ASDA show in Lombard, IL. I had not been to this venue before (Lindner Conference Center). The drive up was VERY…

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This Week’s Revenues. Let’s Talk About Condition/Grade

This Week’s Revenues. Let’s Talk About Condition/Grade

I received these three stamps in the mail this week, one from eBay and the other two from an auction house. Each is unique in its own way. Two of the three are fairly common, at least according to the Scott catalog, but as is all too frequently the case, either the catalog is wrong (in my opinion) or there’s more to the story than just the catalog value. First is a lovely unused example of RB1c, the imperforate version…

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The World’s Most HIDEOUS RB8a!

The World’s Most HIDEOUS RB8a!

Browsing through a junk box at CHICAGOPEX, I did a spit-take when I saw this stamp… absolutely HORRIFIC. But it was less than $10, so I bought it as a joke and showed it around, producing winces and cringing throughout the bourse. When I got it home, I put it up on eBay purely as a joke, but believe it or not it actually sold at a reasonable profit. The person who purchased it bought it as an experimentation project…

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An Inevitable “Decline Opinion”?

An Inevitable “Decline Opinion”?

Looking through the PFSearch, one does occasionally encounter declined opinions rather than positive or negative opinions. They are comparatively few and far between, but they are out there. It got me thinking about the piece below. I purchased this as a fake and as a discussion piece a few months back, but the more I think about it, the more I think one could debate its merits… but ultimately, in my opinion we can never know what it actually is….

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So Close… and Yet So Far.

So Close… and Yet So Far.

I had high hopes for this stamp being a major upgrade for my existing copy, but as happens all too frequently on eBay, it was not all that it was claimed to be. No faults were disclosed in the listing, and the listing photo was small enough that you really couldn’t tell for certain. When I made my offer, I included wording to the effect that the offer was contingent upon the stamp being completely sound. When I opened the…

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Sometimes It Takes a 2nd Glance (or 5th)…

Sometimes It Takes a 2nd Glance (or 5th)…

You never know what you might catch on a subsequent examination of an item that you might have missed the first time (or in this case, first several times). I first saw the multiple below in a dealer’s inventory at INDYPEX back in 2008, and have seen it every year since. it is a block of 3 of R15, and the dealer correctly noted that the top left stamp is a T15 major double transfer. When I saw it on…

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Extraordinarily, excessively ILLEGAL!

Extraordinarily, excessively ILLEGAL!

As part of my revenue collecting, I have been recently enjoying illegal usages of postage stamps as revenues on documents during the Civil War and Spanish American War periods. I’m up to about 25 documents now, including a few multiples, some combinations of different postage denominations, some with a postage stamp and a revenue, and even one with a demonetized 1851 postage stamp. They are more common than the reverse (revenues illegally used for postage on cover), but that actually…

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A Wonderful 1st Issue Plate Number Single

A Wonderful 1st Issue Plate Number Single

1st issue plate number singles are fairly scarce and usually command large premiums. High-denomination plate number singles are even more scarce and rarely seen. A high-denomination plate number single still on document?… about as rare as rocking horse manure. Luckily for me, the seller of the document below didn’t use the terms “plate number”, “plate single”, “margin”, or “imprint” anywhere in the title or listing. In fact, they just listed it as a regular R97c. I guess this technically is…

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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

I don’t know the behind-the-scenes goings on or what transpired with whom, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I’ll admit that I’m somewhat puzzled by the numbers. One of the holes I still needed to fill in my1st-3rd series revenue collection is R150a, the high denomination ($20) of the third issue, vermillion error of color. I’ve seen quite a few here and there but none that struck my fancy until this one appeared on…

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A One-of-a-Kind Double Transfer

A One-of-a-Kind Double Transfer

File this under “Yes, I know it’s pricey, but I just HAD to have it!” I already have several examples of R5b with major double transfer (T5), but this is the first one I have ever seen where the R5b is imperforate vertically rather than horizontally. As with all of the pert perforates that can be found imperforate in both directions, the examples that are imperforate vertically are far more scarce than the examples imperforate horizontally. Add to that the…

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A VERY Scarce Revenue Usage on Document

A VERY Scarce Revenue Usage on Document

This is the first use of this particular stamp that I have ever seen in person, and searches of SAN and other auction sites only turn up 3 or 4 examples on document. I spotted it on eBay with about 24 hours left to go and it only had 1 bid at $5.99. The seller was unaware of the significance of the stamps, so there were no indicators in either the auction title or the listing. I was hopeful I…

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D’oh! What’s Wrong With This Picture?

D’oh! What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This one had me doing a facepalm… for myself, the seller, and everyone else on eBay at the time this auction was going on. I was going through all my unfiled revenue “stuff” tonight, looking for 1st issue silk papers to add to my site, and as what usually happens as I’m pawing through piles of stuff, I come across a few items that I don’t ever remember purchasing. The picture below is a small portion of a giant 2ft…

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Two Great Pieces of Revenue Ephemera

Two Great Pieces of Revenue Ephemera

Sometimes when I find revenue-related ephemera, I just have to buy it for the “neato” factor. Item #1. I wish I had seen these when the seller first started listing them, as I might have gotten the complete box intact, but by the time I saw the listing, several pairs of the tins had already been sold. I did, however, did end up with the outer containing box, which no one else got. These are very fragile. At some point…

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Sometimes the Catalog Value Is Utterly Meaningless…

Sometimes the Catalog Value Is Utterly Meaningless…

In the world of cancel collecting, frequently the stamp that the cancel is on doesn’t factor into the overall scarcity or value. Take the R22c below. On its face, nothing that exceptional about the stamp itself, other than being a nice green shade of the fugitive violet ink. In this case, the cancel makes ALL the difference in the world. The stamp itself catalogs for $7.50. When the stamp appeared on eBay earlier this week with a $90.00 Buy-It-Now, I…

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A Rant About Professional Grading

A Rant About Professional Grading

Before I get into the topic at hand, first let me preface my comments with: I fully realize that professional grading really isn’t widely accepted in revenue collecting circles; this was more of an exercise in curiosity, and When discussing the stamps shown below, I am concentrating on the margins only and not on other potential aspects of grading such as soundness, color, paper, etc. There appears to me to be somewhat of an illogical disconnect in the manner that…

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